The Conversation I Didn’t Want to Have

(Note: This post originally ran on Sunday on the Huffington Post. The good news is that, despite the tough and sad topic, my son and I ended up having a wonderful conversation about kindness and respect.)

As I sit here, my 8-year-old son is consuming his fifth waffle and watching some inane Sunday morning cartoon. His life is carefree, focused, as kids often are, on entertainment, fulfilling his needs, and fun, fun, fun.

But, at some point today, I have to sit him down and have a conversation I don’t want to have to have. One that will bring back memories of another conversation we had to have just over four months ago. One that upset him then and which will upset him now. One to which, when he asks why, we will not have the answers.

I guess this is parenting. I guess this is real life. It stinks.

Yesterday, we received notification from our kids’ school principal that they plan to hold Open Circles in class on Monday so the children can share any questions, concerns or feelings they have about this past week’s sadness and madness here in Boston.

First, let me say that I fully support the mission of the Open Circle program, which is described as:

  • Strengthening students’ [SEL] skills related to recognizing and managing emotions, developing care and concern for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and handling challenging situations constructively
  • Fostering safe, caring and highly-engaging classroom and school communities

Flash back four months to the days following the ghastly events in Newtown. School somberly informed us they’d be holding Open Circles in each class. I understand why it was necessary: many were distraught and we needed to provide a forum in which facts could be confirmed, mistruths corrected and, most of all, security and safety assured. But my husband and I, we struggled all weekend with the timing, feeling like ours hands were forced into having a discussion with children before school resumed, so that they could hear it from us first: the two people they depend on most for wellbeing, confidence, faith. I, for one, was not willing or ready for the responsibility of penetrating their carefree universe with the ugly reality that bad things happen to good people, without cause or sense. I needed more time to process, find the right words, consult with other parents. But the clock was ticking, the weekend hours running out before the Monday morning school bell and the wagging tongues of many kids.

To read the full post on Huffington Post, click here.

Manners, Please

You know what bugs me? Rude, selfish, thoughtless people.

I was recently aghast and disturbed when I read this post about an incident in which two teens showed utter insolence to a woman. No only did they not open the door for her, even though she was just steps behind them, but when she said “thank you very much” with a dose of sarcasm, they turned around and said “whatever, bitch.” O.M.G!

The mere thought of my kids – let alone anyone’s kids – behaving this way makes my nerves bristle.

But this is not just about kids, it’s about all of us.

Have you ever tried parking at the grocery store, only to find the spot you’d selected littered with an abandoned shopping cart/trolley? While at the supermarket yesterday, I looked and counted 17 carts slung around. Willfully. Selfishly.

It’s very easy to feel impervious to the outside world when we are driving in our cars. It’s almost as if, simply by being behind the wheel, we are excused from exhibiting basic manners like acknowledging with a “thank you” when someone lets you out, or saying “please, after you” to let someone go ahead of you.

Or how about taking a few seconds to RSVP to that invitation to a kid’s birthday party, rather than just turning up and assuming that the host can accommodate the unaccounted-for child or pay the excess fee for being one kid over the 15 limit?

I know we are all busy. I understand that things easily slip our minds. I know it’s natural to focus on me and mine, rather than you and yours.

But people, I’m trying to teach my kids to be polite and respectful and, frankly, you are not helping much.

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